Why Are We So Poorly Served

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ELEVATING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

In recent times, I have been pondering about the poor service we always seem to get in Nigeria. Irrespective of the industry, the service is poor. Is it cultural? Is it that we do not have anywhere or a platform to complain and demand good service.

Let’s take a number of an instance I have suffered from bad customer service. I am sure that these poor services I received are not in isolation to me alone.

I went to a five star establishment the other day. I’d say its Chinese restaurant is the foremost in Victoria Island. The service I received from the restaurant was deplorable. The waiters were in short supply. I found it strange for such a large organisation. Orders were poorly executed. The time between each course was perennial. Getting your bill and paying was a herculean task.

I do not believe getting service needs to be this stressful. I left there feeling more tired and despondent than when I got there. My family and I had gone there to celebrate, but left with deflated spirits.

I am really concerned! Take telecoms for example. I use two operators on a daily basis and still get poor service. Lines constantly drop, calls are not clear or just never get through. What about broadband? As you all know, the internet is not a necessary work tool and many businesses must be online to survive. I have two broadband operators that do not work and contemplating getting a third one out of desperation to ensure I am online. Yet, at the end of every month the line goes off and I have to pay, despite the fact that I had no service.

Or is it the banking sector? There is a particular bank with a large retail customer base whose online platform is the only point of recourse because its banking halls are always overflowing and messy. Its online platforms are a nightmare to use. The platform is cumbersome. You must register a new beneficiary each time and go through several stages to execute a transaction. On the off chance that you succeed, it times out and you have to start all over again. It’s time wasting and challenging. It’s like we are built to suffer at the hands of service providers.

What about the pay per view operators? They have a strong monopoly in this sector. Many of us are forced to use the service of a particular provider and have no viable option to switch. Globally, it is rare to see any company dominating a segment the way this company has been allowed to dominate. Competition is absent and the cost is exorbitant. Why can we not have viable options in this segment? Why are we giving them the power to choke viable competition away? Why do we get billed when we do not watch? Why can it not be pay as you go?

This pay as you go option should also apply to broadband. The cost of getting broadband is so expensive compared to other climes in addition to the poor service. What is government doing about anti-competition rules? Why are these unfair trade and pricing practices not being checked? We suffer a double whammy of poor service at an exorbitant price. No wonder people are getting frustrated and depressed.

One question that keeps reverberating as I write this article, is “why do companies not take customer service seriously or as seriously as they should. Many fail to understand the hidden long-term ‘costs’ of poor service that include costly customer word of mouth or mouse and reputational damage,” according to Professor Berry, a marketing expert.

Berry believes that in many cases, companies are defining what customers want incorrectly. A good example of this is the bank I describe with a very unfriendly online platform. Their claim is that their platform is deliberately cumbersome to keep our money safe. I totally disagree, their platform is hellish and banks with simple and friendly platforms exist. I usually psyche myself before transacting business on their platform.

The illustrations I have used above, some will say are somewhat complex. What about the everyday simple customer service requirements that one will say are easy to achieve but still seem unsurmountable to our providers? These are:

• Simple courtesy – I have had to correct receptionists, shop assistants, security guards who bark orders at you as you enter their organizations. Many of them do not greet you before they talk to you and have a challenge with saying “please” and “thank you”.

• Chatting with colleagues or on the phone – This should be a big No. But happens all the time. You find people chatting instead of attending to you. Unless it is very important all personal conversations should stop when customers are there.

• Arguing and shouting on customers – Many people forget that the customer is always right and should never be held in contempt. We need to learn to patiently listen to the customer before dealing with the complaint rationally and calmly.

• Eating in front of customers – It is unprofessional to eat in front of your customers. I’ve smelt food in lobbies and receptions of big organisations or the “ogas” secretary’s office. Eat you food in the cafeteria and do not talk to customers with your mouth full.
• Not making eye contact – It is considered rude when eye contact is not made with a customer when being served. It can also be construed as shifty and dishonest.

• Overpricing a product and poor service – This usually kills a business. Many people will switch immediately, especially if they discover that on top of poor service you are over-priced. Paying more for poor service, when a product is priced above competitions is unacceptable, particularly when it hurts your pocket.

• Talking down on customers with technical jargon – Telling me in difficult to understand language about a problem I am having with your product or service is off putting. Explain to me in simple clear terms and leave the technical jargon to other professionals in your field.

• Banging the phone and putting me on hold – Many businesses put you on hold for long periods. Many times you end of hanging up because you frustrated and upset about your time being wasted. Or you get a rude who is impatient with you and cuts the phone.

The list is endless and prevalent. However, with commitment these are not difficult to overcome. By understanding and knowing what you are doing wrong as a business can greatly improve your customer service and improve your customer base which will boost your profit. Let’s take customer service seriously!